Our contractor said he would show us some tiles his company had for sale but for bathroom and kitchen fixings, we were on our own. So, after getting some sketchy details from renovation-savvy friends (along the lines of "somewhere in Mongkok, you'll never miss it. It's got all those tiles on the sidewalk"), we girded up our courage to cross to The Other Side.
Located in Portland Street, near Argyle and Bute Streets, Tile Street (that's just a nickname, not a real one) has rows and rows of shops selling bathroom fixings, tiles, window frames, mirrors, wallpaper, cookers and lights. The busiest area is between Exits A2 and C2 of the Mongkok MTR station.
It is any budding interior designer's dream. You can get anything from tiles that cost HK$10 per piece to taps that make you gulp at HK$20,000. Those daring enough to venture through dingy corridors into rickety lifts (escorted by some of the most persistent touts I've ever seen) might just be rewarded by the sight of shops selling custom-made kitchens finished off with the holy grail of countertops, Corian.
You can spend an entire day just walking in and out of the shops in a daze... as we did on our first trip there. Should we have colour-changing LED lights for our ceiling? Or maybe a shower door etched with dolphins? How about a sandstone slab for the living room, with a tasteful little waterfall? Ooooh, that mosaic looks just like something from a Greek church!
On our second trip, we were smarter, zooming in exactly on what we needed: a toilet and a bathroom sink. Veterans now, we grabbed cards and noted down dimensions, looking so purposeful the touts knew to avoid us. In the end, we bought our very first item for our new flat: that Grohe mixer you see in the picture.
One down, another 100 more to go. And we haven't even started on our kitchen yet.
<---- Guard cats. Some assembly required.